Here’s A First: NJ Online Poker Revenues Grow Year-on-Year

December 15, 2015
Here’s A First: NJ Online Poker Revenues Grow Year-on-Year

The New Jersey online poker market celebrated a small victory this week, as according to financials reported by the Division of Gaming Enforcement, Internet poker revenue for November was up slightly over last year.

This marks the first time that the industry has posted year-on-year gains, suggesting that after two years, the state’s poker networks – Party/Borgata and 888/WSOP — have finally found their footing.

The minor achievement was complemented by a record breaking performance by the industry’s casino arm, which generated $11,265,030 million in gross gaming revenue. Together with the $1,957,513 million collected from online poker, the industry reaped a grand total of $13,222,543 million in November – also a new record, and a feat rendered all the more significant given November’s short length.

November iPoker growth somewhat unexpected

From what I’ve witnessed, there is no standout justification for why online poker grew on both a monthly and annual basis in November. If anything, the contrary should have been true:

  • November was an exceptionally warm month in New Jersey. Generally speaking, the chillier the fall, the greater the seasonal uptick. 
  • The two-year anniversary promos were somewhat lacking compared to those offered last year, when poker bonuses, loyalty points, freeroll tickets and buy-in rebates were handed out like they were going out of style.
  • There was no one-off tournament series to speak of. By contrast, in October Party/Borgata hosted the markedly successful $800,000 guaranteed GSSS III.

Yet, despite this, online poker revenue climbed 2.3% month-on-month (over 5.7% if we account for October’s longer length), and 4.3% over last year.

New Jersey Revenue Nov 2015

To some degree, stabilization and diversification in the areas of technology and cashiering are playing a role in the market’s slow rebirth. However, the key driving factor may have absolutely nothing to do with what’s happening on the online poker front.

In other words, it’s plausible that the state’s burgeoning casino arm is driving traffic to the virtual green felt.

Consider this: The Borgata’s online casino generated just over $3 million last month, representing monthly gains of 24% and annual growth of 27%. With gains this substantial, even a nominal amount of spillover could easily account for a material increase in poker revenue.

Supporting this theory is the fact that Borgata’s online casino client supports a direct link to poker, and vice versa. There’s a lot to be said about the power of convenience.

Borgata still New Jersey’s online poker king

The Borgata easily retained its market share lead, as both itself and 888/WSOP grew at nearly equivalent rates.

Online poker revenue for the Borgata was up 2.1%  for the month ($1,102,595) while Caesars grew at a 2.5% clip ($854,918). The Borgata currently holds a 56.3% share of the market, down just one-tenth of a percent from October.

It’s worth noting that the Borgata was able to retain its lead in the absence of a high-profile tournament series. The last time neither operator hosted a one-off series (September), the Borgata only captured a 53.7% share of the market.

Borgata’s deficit on the cash game front also seems to be shrinking. According to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout, the Borgata currently accounts for 45% of ring game liquidity, compared to just 41% a month ago.

Future outlook

Last December, online poker revenue rebounded in a big way, posting monthly gains of 9.7% and generating north of $2 million.

I expect similar growth this year, as 888/WSOP has already launched a full slate of holiday promotions. Not to mention, both operators are currently offering reload bonuses, which generally hold appeal to net depositing players and rakeback grinders alike.

The only aspect working against the industry continues to be the weather, which is warmer now than in any other New Jersey December in recent memory.

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